Thursday, July 19, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: 20A: With 28-, 48- and 56-Across, riddle whose answer appears in the circled squares...
RIDDLE: What implement / can be produced / from potassium / nickel and iron?
ANSWER (spelled out in circled squares): K NI FE
I thought riddles were supposed to be fun, or funny, or at least clever. This is just a dull fact. [OK, I'm an Idiot ... K = Potassium, NI = Nickel, and FE = Iron, as helpful commenters have noted; so the theme *is* clever, after all, I suppose - in its way]
As with many Kahn ("Khan!") puzzles, this was thorny throughout, though not particularly vicious in any one part - except perhaps the NE, which was home to two of several answers I did not know, and at least one misstep. For 9D: "Odyssey," for one (poem) I had EPIC, which made me then consider ERST for 9A: Ex- and IDEE for 19A: Abbe de l'_____, pioneer in sign language (epee) - never heard of the latter. Also never heard of 16A: Talk radio's _____ & Anthony (Opie) - You lost me at "Talk radio" (I can't think of any worse way to spend my time, except perhaps going under the dentist's drill).
Other stuff I didn't know...
5A: Project Blue Book subject (UFOs) - "blue books" are what my students write midterms / finals in. They are the only "blue books" I am familiar with.
18A: Turns about, as a mast (slues) - I know I have claimed I don't know this answer before, but I'm claiming it again.
51A: Kentucky's Athlete of the Century (Ali) - I guessed it from its three-letteredness, but I don't normally associate ALI with the Bluegrass State.
I liked SIBYL (39A: Fortuneteller) over TROY (47A: Movie featuring Peter O'Toole as Priam), as both figure prominently in the Aeneid, which I teach often. Also liked the beautifully symmetrical crossing of NILE and DELTA (58D: With 66-Across, Egyptian agricultural area). SET A DATE (38D: Plan for nuptials) took me way longer than it should have, considering I got DATE early. I thought the Rolling Stones were somehow involved with the Windows 95 start-up sound, but no, it was BRIAN ENO (40D: Musician who created the Windows 95 start-up sound), seen here in his less common complete-name form. Happy to get RED WINGS right off the bat - years spent in Michigan pays off - and NOT happy to get baffled by 37A: Affluent duo? (efs), especially given that you almost never see the letter "F" spelled out like that. ICKY (60A: Like worms).
Boston was a blast, especially the first night, when I got to see the first regulation shutout at Fenway by a Red Sox rookie (Kason Gabbard) since Roger Clemens on July 26, 1984, and by a Red Sox rookie lefty since Roger Moret on Sept. 24, 1971.
The next day was not as great, as we got beat up by a terrible KC team, but the game was still a lot of fun. We sat in the first row of the rightfield seats, and so right up against the Red Sox bullpen. I could have poked many a pitcher if I'd been so inclined. Crowds of elated kids would descend on our seats at every inning break to try to get a look or wave from their favorite players (especially Jonathan Papelbon).
I think I got Mike Timlin to smile at me. He may have been smiling at some hot chick nearby, I can't be sure.
Anyway, Sox are now on a losing streak while Yankees are on a winning streak, which I told everyone would happen eventually, even though sportscaster after sportscaster called the Yankees "dead." Why will nobody listen?! The Yankees are like Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" - you think she's dead in that tub? Well then I hope you like knives, 'cause you're about to get stabbed with one. Anyway ... Fenway was gorgeous, as was the weather, and I saw Crossword Fiend's book at the COOP bookstore in Harvard Square, so all in all it was a winning trip. Glad to be home - though I came home to find sick wife :( Summer colds are horrrrrible.
Speaking of which - must go take care of morning child care now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld